The Lucky Lab smells like carmel corn when I walk in. It has a whole carnival element to it too; not a single stable table in the place, wood floors beat to shit by decades of warehouse use, groups gathered haphazardly both inside and out. But the smell of carmel corn is what sticks with me. NOt the first time I’ve had this experience; I assume it was a brewing day because of the maltiness in the air.
I have to say I had a bit of a dilemma tonight. I wanted to do this theme was that it would allow me to visit places outside the zone of the previous themes but there is a significant drawback to interlinking this theme to other people: Namely, I have to have other people to interact with. The Lucky Lab doesn’t have places along the rail, it has a waiting zone for beer. There isn’t an easy way to ask people what they’re having.
So tonight I am a spy, a stealth drinker, listening to the conversations ahead of me, trying to understand what’s been said, to get just enough snippets of language that I can place an order without having to pause and hold everyone else up. I catch just enough of the bartender’s response to someone ‘The Golden has technical difficulties so here’s the rye.’ Problem solved-as far as what beer I want.
I watch the bartender pour my beer; it almost seems like the rye is having technical difficulties. The bartender is very conscienscous about pouring me a full pint and creates a nice puddle of foam beneath the spout of rye in order to do so. I appreciate the thought but I have to wonder if violently shaking foam out of the glass doesn’t affect the beer somehow. As it stands, I can’t smell anything other then carmel corn, which is not helping me understand what it is I’ve drank.
The rye itself is OK. Finishes nice, with a great deal of crispness and dryness, so I want another sip but the beer itself tastes thin and I can’t get any nose. So let’s give a B+ to the finish and a C- to the rest.
In one respect, the LL is a microcosm of Portland. There’s a trio of woman hammering ideas out on laptops far away, one in a purple plaid flannel, the other with blonde dreads and the Jan of the group. Closer by there is another trio, one with glasses and a jacket, another with a tiara of stars mounted on springs-like alien antenna, the Jan a brunette this time but in knee high boots. They’re soon joined by a man on crutches, hat with a surfer logo on backwards, hoodie with logos on frontwards, pants seemingly logo free.
Low budget kids next to me, complaining about working their shitty jobs, mocking posers, complaining about idiots who text and don’t spell correctly, remarking on the foolishness of some online interactions (ah, Facebook, what have you tweaked for us?) and mistakes that get made when you drink too much. Further away there is an older couple, the guy is in a red hat that screams ‘White person from the 70’s’ . Moustache too.
There are also children. And by children, I mean rugrats under 5 who probably shouldn’t be allowed to run around a place like this. Sorry but there’s something fundamentally irresponsible about allowing a child to run around a pub unattended because that boy is headed for the door with nothing in his path. But this is also Portland, sometimes.
Suddenly, I can hear the last verse and chorus of “Fade to Black” just over the crowd murmur and the beginning of brewery cleaning. Metalheads are everywhere I suppose. Though I guess I ought to know, as I’m one of them. But I’m a metalhead who has had a meager brew and no story to listen to. Let’s go home.